Girl, 11, in death threats to class mates

An out-of-control 11-year-old girl assaulted her classmates and threatened to have them shot and killed, a court has heard.

The girl also assaulted her mother and a sister in front of the principal and the school said it has had to call gardaí on a number of occasions to control her.

A social worker with the Child and Family Agency (CFA) told the District Family Law Court that the girl’s behaviour has deteriorated in the last six months, and in two incidents the school had to call gardaí because it was unable to manage her.

“It was a very, very volatile atmosphere. It is very significant that a school like the one in this case are relying on Garda assistance to deal with the behaviour,” she said.

The social worker said earlier this year the girl took an overdose of her mother’s prescription drugs and was rushed to hospital by ambulance.

An assessment carried out on the girl found that there was no intention to self-harm in the episode.

The girl had another outburst at the hospital, where she was treated for the overdose, resulting in the hospital deploying a security guard.

She said the girl “is completely out of control”.

In the case, the CFA was seeking to put the child into care on an interim basis.

Both the child’s mother and father — who is the girl’s primary carer — opposed the application with the father stating that he was agreeable to the respite care Monday to Friday only and would look after his daughter at weekends.

Solicitor for the mother said there has been no further episode of note at the school in the past two months.

However, after hearing evidence from the senior social worker, mother and father, the judge placed the girl into care for the next 29 days.

After hearing the judge’s ruling the distressed mother began to sob openly and left the court in tears.

The solicitor told the father while he was in the witness box: “This is not a punishment of you or your wife. The sole purpose of this is to safeguard your child from now and into the future.”

The social worker told the court: “I would be very, very concerned for the girl if the current pattern continues and I would be very concerned that she would end up part of the criminal system and out of education and be at the risk of harm — both to herself and others.”

She said an assessment of the girl found that “there isn’t an underlying mental health issue, that her difficulties are an emotional and behavioural response to the environment that she is living in”.

She said: “Her dad is a very committed father and I have no doubt but that he has tried his hardest over the years.

“More recently her needs seem to have changed and her behaviour has become very worrying at times and she has had very, very aggressive outbursts.”

The mother told the court that the girl “is not a very bold child — she is a good child”.

The father admitted that the girl’s behaviour “has deteriorated a small bit and there have been no outbursts at home”.

In his ruling, the judge described the father as “an unsung hero” in bringing up the girl by himself for the last number of years.

However, he said that “it is not usual that a child of her age gives rise to major outbursts of the nature outlined” and it is not usual that a child of her age shows this level of aggression “in terms of assaults and threats so there is a problem”.

The judge said the girl’s issues do not relate to an underlying health problem but are a reaction to the unstable environment in which she lives and the social worker has confirmed that what the girl needs is stability.

The judge said that he would grant an interim care order for the purpose that the girl’s health and welfare is not impaired or neglected.


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